At-Large City Councilor Felix Arroyo held a hearing last week to investigate the wage policy at Logan Airport in East Boston. The hearing stems from reports that workers at the airport are earning less than minimum wage.
“This is a matter of fairness for our working families,” said Arroyo, who chairs the committee that focuses on workers’ rights. “A fair wage means being able to not only provide for our families, but also to spend time with our families instead of working two or three jobs to make ends meet.”
According to the Massachusetts Economic index of 2010, a single adult with no dependents must earn $13.60 per hour in order to live self-sufficiently. Currently, airlines at Logan Airport contract workers to provide security, perform airplane maintenance, handle luggage, and assist people with disabilities, who earn as little as $8 to $9 per hour.
Thirty percent of these contracted workers at Logan located live in the city of Boston with many hailing from Eastie.
Rocio Saenz, President of the Service Employees International Union Local 615, testified at the hearing.
“Although the airline contractors sign agreements to offer opportunities to residents of impacted communities, including East Boston, South Boston and Charlestown, we see no evidence that this is happening,” said Saenz at the hearing. “Even these, poverty-wage jobs are out of reach for many residents of Boston communities who are out of work.”
Council President Stephen Murphy, who co-sponsored the measure, said Arroyo correctly puts forward the fact that many people are working and living in sub-poverty levels right here in our city even though they are working full-time jobs.
“Frankly, there is something we should do about it in the interest of fairness,” he said.
Although Massport declined the invitation to attend the hearing and testify, Arroyo read a statement from a spokesperson saying the matter could come under consideration when leases are renewed of the tenants who employ these workers.
“We are taking a stand on this issue because we are losing our middle class,” said Arroyo. “We must defend our middle class jobs so that everyone has the opportunity to make the American dream a reality.”